Born on the Bowery: ‘Outta Sight’

Posted on: August 7th, 2013 at 11:39 am by
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The Bow’ry, The Bow’ry!
They say such things, and they do strange things on the Bow’ry

-‘The Bowery’ is a song from the musical A Trip to Chinatown, with music by Percy Gaunt and lyrics by Charles H. Hoyt.

This week we are examining the Bowery birth of “outta sight.”

From Flappers 2 Rappers: American Youth Slang, by Tom Dalzell:

… out-of-sight can point to serious literary roots…out-of-sight was Bowery slang for astonishingly excellent in the 1890s…”Dis is outa sight.”

This phrase is still used today with the same meaning – amazing, excellent, wonderful, cool.

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For a time, especially in the 1960s and ’70s, the phrase was associated with hippies and bohemians (check out more ’70s slang here). Nowadays, however, some equate it more to surfer slang.

‘Outta Sight’ is also a song title for at least 5 songs, including one by Wilco.

Personally, I use it myself.

Do you?

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